Policy Regarding Medical Research Assistance
The Medical and Allied Health Sciences collections at the University of Texas at El Paso Library are provided primarily as an educational component for the faculty and students of the institution. Other faculty and students in the community, as well as community patrons, are welcome to use the collection for their needs. Research/Instruction staff can help you use the collection, but cannot conduct research about specific medical conditions, diseases, syndromes, ailment, or treatments for you. If you need to find out more about a medical diagnosis or prescription, we encourage you to come to the library and use sources such as Medline. When you come in, we can show you how to access the online resources and print sources, but you are responsible for your own research. If you find a term that is not clear to you, Library staff cannot interpret it or explain it to you. However, they will refer you to dictionaries or other sources that might help you understand it.
This policy is in place for several reasons:
- We are librarians. Our function is to help people use the library, not to research and explain medical literature. Only licensed physicians can diagnose your health, prescribe treatment, and/or interpret laboratory results.
- There are no simple health questions. Each question exists within a factual circumstance. Determining those circumstances is absolutely necessary to properly address the underlying question and is very time-consuming. By way of example, your question might be, “What are the side effects of this drug with someone who has a heart condition?” Such a question should only be discussed with a licensed pharmacist and your physician. Texts are published to assist highly trained health care practitioners to answer these questions. Most of these texts are not written for the consumer/patient.
- Inaccurate health information may result in improper care. Physicians conduct probing interviews with their patients in order to uncover all of the relevant facts necessary to provide effective care. Librarians cannot know all of the details necessary to properly advise you about which specific text or website to read.
- Discussions between a physician and a patient are protected by The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Any discussion of the details of your situation with Library staff is not a protected discussion.
Library staff is prohibited from giving healthcare advice. Librarians advising people about their health is against the law. Only a licensed physician can diagnose and prescribe treatment.